Healthy Relationships in Recovery

Relationships add meaning and fulfillment to our lives. Healthy relationships can improve your mental health by enhancing security, connection and happiness. However, toxic relationships can have the opposite effect, generating stress and conflict that trigger your central nervous system and make it harder to cope with other stressors in your life.

Building healthy relationships in recovery is important whether those connections are platonic, romantic, professional or casual. You can even work toward creating a healthy relationship with yourself to improve your recovery outcomes and reduce your chances of relapse.

We help people with addictions and substance use disorders recover. Get mindfulness training and learn the 12 Steps for deeper healing.

Building a Healthy Relationship with Yourself

Many of the issues that prevent you from having healthy relationships with others start with yourself. Active addiction prevents people from taking care of themselves properly. Their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health often suffers.

Someone who becomes accustomed to self-destructive behavior may be likely to tolerate toxic behavior from others. Developing self-love and acceptance without criticism or judgment is one of the first steps toward building healthy relationships during recovery.

The methods that are used at a comprehensive addiction treatment facility are designed to help you improve your relationships, including the one with yourself. Approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, mindfulness and emotional intelligence development improve your relationship with yourself in the following ways:

  • Reducing negative self-talk
  • Improving self-esteem
  • Coping with powerful emotions
  • Setting goals that enhance your connection with yourself
  • Increasing self-agency and self-efficacy
  • Building self-awareness
  • Understanding addiction and the way that it influences your health

Fostering a positive relationship with yourself is important for everyone, and it’s a lifelong journey. Participating in a treatment program and working with mental health professionals can help you nurture yourself in a way that promotes healthy development. When you approach life with a perspective of self-love, you are in a better place to invite other healthy relationships in.

Signs of Healthy Relationships

Some people don’t have a history of healthy relationships. We may operate in a dysfunctional style because of the way that we were treated as children or the way that our partners treat us. When you’re clouded by substances, you may not evaluate relationships with clarity.

As you move through recovery, it helps to keep the following signs of healthy relationships in mind. Healthy relationships involve:

  • Mutual respect
  • Kindness, caring and compassion
  • Healthy communication
  • Setting and adhering to boundaries
  • Commitment to honesty
  • Improving the lives of both people in the relationship

In recovery, healthy relationships are those that support sobriety. You may have respect, honesty and strong communication with someone, enjoying their company and liking their personality.

But if this relationship triggers you emotionally or causes cravings for drug use, it might not be the healthiest at this time. Working on your relationship with yourself and understanding the elements of healthy relationships can help you navigate these situations in a way that serves your best interests.

Building Healthy Relationships with Others in Recovery

You may struggle to maintain healthy relationships while you’re in active addiction. Even if your relationships stay strong during that time, they can change when you’re in recovery. You may find that your priorities shift, influencing the way that you operate in relationships. This may mean that you distance yourself from people with whom you were close in the past or make unexpected connections with new people.

However, it can be tough to put yourself out there and make new friends. Participating in addiction treatment with others, such as attending support groups and meetings, increases the odds that you’ll meet someone who understands what you’re going through.

Establishing healthy relationships doesn’t mean that you need to be friends with everyone, though. You can have healthy relationships of any type, such as the relationship that you have with your sponsor, boss or family member.

The Following Elements Will Help You Build Healthy Relationships in Recovery

Set Boundaries

Boundaries are essential for every relationship. They’re particularly important when you’re navigating the transition from addiction to recovery. Learning about healthy boundary setting and practicing it with everyone in your life can help you maintain healthy relationships in the long term.

When you set boundaries, you make other people aware of the guidelines that you follow for your life. These guidelines help protect your well-being. Anyone who wants to be in healthy relationships with you should respect these boundaries without criticizing them, rejecting them or crossing them.

Boundaries can change, and expressing them to others involves strong communication and the ability to make agreements. If someone doesn’t respect your boundaries, they’re not someone with whom you can have a positive relationship right now.

Establish Trust

Trust between loved ones becomes broken when one of the parties struggles with addiction. It’s important to establish trust in recovery. This often starts with your ability to be honest with yourself. In turn, your honesty will promote healthy relationships with others.

Establishing trust comes from setting boundaries and sticking to them. But you also need continual open communication and reliability. Surround yourself with people who communicate well with you and act with integrity. Demonstrate your trustworthiness by being as transparent and honest as possible.

Can Unhealthy Relationships Lead to Relapse?

Toxic relationships can increase your risk of relapsing. They create emotional strife and a lack of support that make it harder to cope with stress and other challenges in recovery. Also, if you’re concentrating on the constant drama and repair that comes with toxic relationships, you won’t have as much energy to focus on yourself during recovery.

Some toxic relationship traits that can lead to relapse include:

  • Codependency
  • Lack of groundedness
  • A need to walk on eggshells around the person
  • A roller-coaster ride of emotions
  • Verbal, emotional or physical manipulation or abuse
  • Lying and lack of trust
  • Unreliability
  • Instability

Addiction Recovery at Renewal Lodge

The team at Renewal Lodge is committed to helping you succeed in recovery. This includes guidance for establishing and maintaining healthy relationships. As you identify the elements of unhealthy and healthy relationships, you’ll be better able to create positive interactions that support you in recovery and relationships.

Find Healing At Renewal Lodge

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Dear Renewal Lodge Visitors,

My name is John Bruna, co-founder of the Mindfulness in Recovery® Institute, and more importantly, a grateful member of the recovery community. I am incredibly fortunate to have found my recovery in 1984. Of course, I did not achieve continuous recovery through willpower or my own efforts, but through the guidance and caring support of countless others that selflessly taught me how to live through the 12 Steps.

My journey of recovery brought this once homeless, shame-based, traumatized, insecure young man to a life far beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I discovered self-worth, the joy of helping others, the gifts of parenting and grandparenting, and most importantly the ability to live a meaningful and purposeful life with integrity.

One of the greatest gifts of recovery is that I have the opportunity to give back and help others discover their self-worth, dignity, and the skills to fully live lives that they find truly meaningful. This is the inspiration for developing the skills of Mindfulness in Recovery® (MIR) to meet the needs of new generations struggling with alcohol and other substance use disorders. MIR is a set of evidence-based skills designed to help people fully integrate their tools of recovery in ways that are personalized, practical, and in alignment with their deepest values.

While we train counselors and therapists throughout the United States and abroad, I personally have chosen to work directly with the amazing team and clients at Renewal Lodge to develop the model MIR 12-step program for the nation. I choose Renewal Lodge because of the vision of its mission and the dedication of its team. Renewal Lodge is an extremely rare environment in which the staff embodies the very mindfulness and 12-step practices and skills they offer their clients. The results have been beyond my expectations. It is an honor to be here and I treasure my personal time with every client I meet.

With Gratitude,

John Bruna
John Bruna
Director of Mindfulness
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